Genesis 14 ended with a tremendous victory in the life of Abram as he returned from defeating the four kings who had taken Lot captive. Abram had gone with his trained servants and his other allies and they recovered Lot, his family, and all the others who had been taken captive. Everyone was elated about how God had given them such a powerful victory. But chapter 15 begins with a very interesting statement. Scripture declared, “After these things the word of the LORD came to Abram in a vision, saying, ‘Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your exceedingly great reward’” (Gen. 15:1). So why was the Lord telling Abram not to be afraid? Because he was obviously fearful of something. God would not have said to him, “Do not be afraid,” unless he was fearful. Abram had gone from great victory, to then being afraid.
What could Abram possibly have feared?
Scripture does not tell us why Abram was fearful, so we can only guess at what it was. But, if I were Abram, I would probably be thinking, What am I going to do if these four kings regroup and come back with a bigger army? Will I be able to win the victory again? I took them by surprise at night; next time they will be ready for me. This was the most likely concern, because God then told Abram that He was his “shield.” The word shield means protector and defender. Knowing what this word means then makes perfect sense that Abram was most likely afraid of these kings returning.
How could Abram go from the elation of victory and faith to fear?
This is a question that many ask when they read these verses, but is it that unusual for a person to have such spiritual swings from faith to unbelief? I don’t believe that it is unusual at all. Let me give you some reasons.
1. The first reason a person could have this kind of wild swing from faith to unbelief is the simple fact that he or she is human. Abram was absolutely human, as is every one of you reading this right now. Wavering between faith and unbelief are natural tendencies for human beings. This is not an excuse for unbelief, but is an acknowledgement of reality. I would venture to say that we all have had experiences like this. How can I be so sure? The Scripture declares that, “No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it” (1 Cor. 10:13). This passage means that every one of us experiences the same trials and temptations that every other person does. So, if you think that you will never go from total victory to total defeat in one day, think again. This has happened to me, and it will happen to you. The glorious thing is that you can recover from that moment of defeat, fear, and anxiety if you will simply do what Abram did. I will explain what I mean by this statement a little later in this study.
A great example of a swift turnabout from the victory of faith to unbelief is the Prophet Elijah. Remember that Elijah had a great victory of faith over the prophets of Baal on Mount Carmel (1 Kings 18). He prayed and the rain stopped, then he prayed again three and a half years later, and the rain began to fall in the land of Israel. He challenged the prophets of Baal to a contest of whose “god” would send fire down from heaven. When the God of Elijah answered his prayer of faith with fire from heaven to consume his sacrifice, the people rose up and put to death all the prophets of Baal. What a victory of faith! But when Jezebel the wife of King Ahab heard what Elijah had done, she vowed to kill him (1 Kings 19). And what did Elijah do when he heard of her threat? He ran for his life in fear of Jezebel. He had just faced off with 450 prophets of Baal, and now he runs from a woman? How could this be? Elijah went from a total victory of faith, to total fear and unbelief. Now the question is how did God handle Elijah’s stumble? Did He tell him that He was finished with him? No, He didn’t. God did for Elijah what He did for Abram; the Lord spoke to him and encouraged him to walk in faith. Notice what Scripture declared in Genesis 15:1, “After these things the word of the Lord came to Abram.” It is interesting that this is the first time in Scripture that this phrase is used, and then it is used again in verse 4. This phrase denotes that God was directly speaking to this man whom He had called His friend (James 2:23). When God spoke to Abram, we will see that he listened. When the word of the Lord came to Elijah hiding in his cave, he also listened. This is a key to understanding how to overcome fear.
2. The second reason that we all stumble and fall into unbelief at times is that we simply listen to the lies of the wicked one, and also the lies that people tell us. Each of us is involved in a spiritual battle every day of our lives. This spiritual battle that goes on around us is the reason why we sometimes fear, get depressed, or experience anxiety in our hearts. There is a real devil and real demonic forces that are at work around us, who lie and tempt every one of us. Sometimes we listen to the lies and the result is that we stumble. If Jesus was tempted by the devil, so will you be tempted. If the devil lied and twisted God’s Word with Jesus, he will do the same to you. Knowing this, you should prepare yourself accordingly. Paul declared in Ephesian 6:10-12, “Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.” This spiritual battle is reality for every one of us, so put on the whole armor of God every day!
However, many today laugh and make jokes about the existence of the Devil and demons. I warn people by telling them that demonic warfare is no laughing matter. I like to ask those who mock the idea of a devil and demons this question, “Do you see good and evil in the world today?” People always answer, yes. Then I ask them, “If you believe that God is the source of all good, then who is the source of evil in the world?” I think the answer is obvious. I also like to explain to them, “If you reject the idea of the devil and demons, then you must reject the testimony of Jesus and consider Him a liar. Are you willing to do that?” Most people will stop to reconsider their beliefs at this point. Jesus said when He rebuked the Pharisees, “Why do you not understand My speech? Because you are not able to listen to My word. You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it” (John 8:43-44). Note that Jesus directly attributed the Pharisees’ lack of ability to understand Him, to the lying effects and the control of the Devil over them.
My point is this. We sometimes experience these wide swings between faith and unbelief because we are listening to the lies of the wicked one. He is a liar and the source of all lies, and the temptations that pop up in our thought life. What you need to do is to immerse yourself in the truth of God’s Word so you can discern the lies of the enemy of your soul.
Abram questions God. Vs. 2-3
This is another probable cause of Abram’s fears. Abram questioned God and said, “‘Lord GOD, what will You give me, seeing I go childless, and the heir of my house is Eliezer of Damascus?’ Then Abram said, ‘Look, You have given me no offspring; indeed one born in my house is my heir!’” (Gen. 15:2-3). This was a natural question for Abram to ask. Why? Because he was probably wondering, what will happen to all that I have built here in the land of promise if I have no children to leave it to? His questioning revealed that he must have had some measure of fear that he might not have any descendants. But notice that God did not rebuke Abram for questioning Him. God actually explained what He was about to do by giving Abram an heir from his own body. Many years later God would tell Abram that his heir will also come from Sarah’s body.
Questioning God and asking for insight is very different from questioning God in unbelief. Note that faith was the result of God’s response to Abram that, “He believed in the LORD” (Gen. 15:6). Abram’s faith at God’s response proved the willingness of Abram’s heart to believe even though he questioned God about how everything was going to work out.
To see another example of these two different ways of questioning, is to consider the first chapter of Luke’s gospel. There you see the difference between the question of Zacharias and the question of Mary. When God told Zacharias, the father of John the Baptist, that his wife was to bear a child he said to the angel, “How shall I know this? For I am an old man and my wife is well advanced in years” (Luke 1:18). The result was Zacharias became mute, because he didn’t believe the message given to him. Then later in Luke chapter 1, you see almost the same question by Mary when the angel told her that she was to bear the Christ child. She asked, “How can this be since I do not know a man” (Luke 1:34)? Now these two questions do not seem that different, except that God knew the difference, because He knows the heart. Mary was asking in faith, and Zacharias was asking in unbelief. Zacharias was asking, how can this be, because I think this is impossible, because I am too old to have children. Mary’s question was, “Lord, how are you going to do this?” There is the difference in the motivation of the heart when you ask God questions, so make sure you ask in faith believing that He is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that you ask or even think (Eph. 3:20).
How did God help Abram overcome his fears and his questions?
This is an essential question that must be answered, and this is the point of the 15th chapter of Genesis. God wants you to see these truths exampled in Abram’s life, so you can implement these behaviors in your own life. So, how did Abram overcome his fears?
1. God first spoke the “Word of the LORD” to Abram to enable him to overcome his fears, and he listened. We know that Abram listened, because his heart was filled with faith (Gen. 15:6). This word from the LORD came from a vision that God gave to Abram. The Scripture does not tell us if this was a night vision which would have come to him in a dream, or if this vision was given during the day where God would have simply opened Abram’s eyes to the spiritual realm and then spoke to him (Is. 29:7; Dan. 2:19). But God spoke to him which will always be the first step to overcoming fear or any issue in a believer’s life. God’s Word gives you the insight you need for whatever problem you are having, and also the solution to that problem. The insight and encouragement that God gives through His Word are what causes you to trust the Lord. Paul wrote, “So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Rom. 10:17). Therefore, the next time you are in a place of unbelief, just open up your Bible and begin to read. Then search the Scriptures about the issue which is causing you fear or unbelief. We forget so often how simple a solution it really is to find strength and faith in the midst of the struggles that we are experiencing. Hear God’s voice as you listen to His Word!
2. Next, God helped Abram to overcome his fears and questions by reminding him that He had called him to the Promised Land, and that He would now be His shield and protector. God said, “Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your exceeding great reward” (Gen. 15:1). God also told him, “I am the LORD, who brought you out of Ur of the Chaldeans, to give you this land to inherit it” (Gen. 15:7). These two statements reminded Abram of just who he was talking to, and the power that the LORD possessed to protect him. He was the God who had called him out of Ur of the Chaldeans, and had led Abram to the place he now was. The LORD was the One who had protected and provided for he and his wife to this point in their journey. This is why Abram did not need to be afraid, because if God could take care of him in the past, then He would take care of Abram at that time. These words would have quenched the fear in Abram’s heart. Why? When you fix your eyes on the Lord and off of yourself and all of your problems, everything comes into the correct perspective. This is why Jesus also taught the disciples to begin prayer with getting their attention upon the God they were talking to, when He taught them to pray, “Our Father in heaven” (Matt. 6:9).
If you want to overcome your fears and worries about your needs and the questions in your life, first fix your attention upon the One who knows everything about you, and who has been the One who has led you every step of the way. When you see Him for who He is, faith will replace your fears. Keep in the forefront of your thinking who God is, and what He has done for you in the past and your prayers will be endued with power from on high.
3. In addition, God enabled Abram to overcome his fears and questions by pointing him to the awesome might of His creative power. Faith will always be generated in your heart when you consider God’s creative power. When you look at creation it should persuade you that He can literally do anything. This is why God took Abram outside and said, “‘Look now toward heaven, and count the stars if you are able to number them.’ And He said to him, ‘So shall your descendants be.’ And he believed in the LORD, and He accounted it to him for righteousness” (Gen. 15:5-6). After Abram questioned God concerning the fact that he had no descendants, God responded to him with His own challenge, “Count the stars if you are able to number them.” The obvious conclusion was that Abram could never count and number the stars of heaven. The point God was attempting to make in Abram’s mind was that he was equally unable to figure out how God was going to provide him with children, let alone the numberless children that would be born to him throughout the ages. This was the infinite God revealing His power and ability to a finite man. God was showing Abram that he had no concept of God’s knowledge and ability, which should motivate him to trust God for all the unknown that was before him. Isn’t this the same conclusion you would come to if you asked God the same question? We should all stand outside at night from time to time and look up and realize that we are following an infinite God who can never be reduced to our own comprehension. May we all see Him as the God, “Who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think,” according to His mighty power (Eph. 3:20).
The reason God did this with Abram was to reveal His sovereign position as Lord over all, and that His ways and powers were far beyond all that he could conceive. God never wants us to forget that His timing is not our timing, and His plans are not our plans. God spoke this very truth to His people concerning His plan to restore them and fulfill all His promises to them in the kingdom age. He told His people, “‘For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,’ says the LORD. ‘For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts. For as the rain comes down, and the snow from heaven, and do not return there, but water the earth, and make it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; it shall not return to Me void, but it shall accomplish what I please, and it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it. For you shall go out with joy, and be led out with peace; the mountains and the hills shall break forth into singing before you, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands. Instead of the thorn shall come up the cypress tree, and instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle tree; and it shall be to the LORD for a name, for an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off’” (Is. 55:8-13). God was telling the people, “Don’t try to figure out how or when I’m going to fulfill My Word, just know that I will.” He finished this statement with further promising that peace would one day come to their mountains, and the sign of the curse, which was the thorn and the brier, would one day be done away with. The lesson is simple but hard for us all to learn, that God has His own plan and timing for all that He does. Therefore, we must trust His guarantee to fulfill His Word when and as He sees fit.
4. God enabled Abram to overcome his fears and questions by giving him a promise that he would have an heir, and that this child would come from his own body. Scripture declared, “And behold, the word of the LORD came to him, saying, ‘This one shall not be your heir, but one who will come from your own body shall be your heir.’ Then He brought him outside and said, ‘Look now toward heaven, and count the stars if you are able to number them.’ And He said to him, ‘So shall your descendants be’” (Gen. 15:4-5). God told Abram that Eliezar would not be his heir, but that his descendants would come from his own body. This must have astounded Abram when he heard these words, but the text declared that he believed them. All these things that God had said to him now generated faith in what the Lord had said, and God imputed righteousness to Abram’s account.
Abram believed in the Lord! Vs. 6
Scripture declared, “And he believed in the Lord, and He accounted it to him for righteousness” (Gen. 15:6). There are three things in this verse that are important to note. Abram chose to believe in the Lord and His promises, God took account of Abram’s faith, and He credited Abram with a standing of righteousness before Him. Genesis 15:6 is quoted numerous times in the New Testament and is a message that every believer should take to heart. Why? Because God directly associates the choice of Abram’s believing, with being accounted righteous before Him. These two truths always go together throughout the Bible. Paul also taught, “With the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation” (Rom. 10:10). When anyone puts their faith in the Lord, confesses their sin, asks God’s forgiveness, God will then declare that person righteous before Him. But this does not mean that everything that a believer does from that moment on in their lives is righteous! The righteousness to which God is referring is a righteous standing before Him. This means that because of a person’s faith this individual has been justified in God’s sight from all their sin by the free gift of the grace of God. God punished His own Son that He might justify those who put their faith in Jesus. At that moment of faith, each man’s account has been changed from condemned to justified. Paul explained this truth in Romans 3:23-26 when he wrote, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed, to demonstrate at the present time His righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.” The glorious thing in this passage is that God revealed that all who have sinned and fallen short of God’s glory, can be freely justified and declared righteous before Him simply because of what Christ has done on the cross. God revealed that He is just by punishing our sin upon His own Son, and He has also become the justifier of all who will put their faith in Jesus. Think of it, anyone can be declared righteous just like Abram was if they believe in Jesus.
5. Last, God helped Abram to overcome his fears by making a covenant with him as the ultimate assurance of His promise. God spoke to Abram and said, “I am the LORD, who brought you out of Ur of the Chaldeans, to give you this land to inherit it” (Gen. 15:7). But Abram’s immediate response to God’s promise was to question Him again. He declared, “Lord GOD, how shall I know that I will inherit it?” (Gen. 15:8). In other words, Abram was asking the Lord how He was going to do this since he only owned a burial plot at that moment. How did God respond? God responded by making a covenant with Abram to confirm to him that His promise would come to pass. (Gen. 15:18).
God told Abram, “So He said to him, ‘Bring Me a three-year-old heifer, a three-year-old female goat, a three-year-old ram, a turtledove, and a young pigeon.’ Then he brought all these to Him and cut them in two, down the middle, and placed each piece opposite the other; but he did not cut the birds in two. And when the vultures came down on the carcasses, Abram drove them away. Now when the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell upon Abram; and behold, horror and great darkness fell upon him. Then He said to Abram: ‘Know certainly that your descendants will be strangers in a land that is not theirs, and will serve them, and they will afflict them four hundred years. And also the nation whom they serve I will judge; afterward they shall come out with great possessions. Now as for you, you shall go to your fathers in peace; you shall be buried at a good old age. But in the fourth generation they shall return here, for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet complete.’ And it came to pass, when the sun went down and it was dark, that behold, there appeared a smoking oven and a burning torch that passed between those pieces. On the same day the LORD made a covenant with Abram, saying: ‘To your descendants I have given this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the River Euphrates--the Kenites, the Kenezzites, the Kadmonites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Rephaim, the Amorites, the Canaanites, the Girgashites, and the Jebusites” (Gen. 15:9-21).
When people read this explanation of what God told Abram to do to make this covenant they think, What is the point of all this cutting of animals apart and torches passing through the midst of them? What is the meaning of all of this? This was the way they made a covenant in those days. The Hebrew word for covenant means to cut or to agree, and that is why these animals were cut in half to establish this agreement. When men made a covenant with each other they would go through this process. Both parties would then walk through the middle of these cut animals. Why would they have to walk in the midst of these cut animal parts? Because this was a declaration that if they broke the covenant, it was under the penalty of death, just as these animals had died. Therefore, a covenant was an absolute binding agreement. How can we be sure this was the meaning of this imagery? In Jeremiah 34:18-20 it declares God’s judgment upon the rulers of Judah for not keeping a covenant that they had made with the Lord. God said, “And I will give the men who have transgressed My covenant, who have not performed the words of the covenant which they made before Me, when they cut the calf in two and passed between the parts of it--the princes of Judah, the princes of Jerusalem, the eunuchs, the priests, and all the people of the land who passed between the parts of the calf--I will give them into the hand of their enemies and into the hand of those who seek their life. Their dead bodies shall be for meat for the birds of the heaven and the beasts of the earth.” Note that death is the pronouncement from God as the penalty for breaking the covenant. He even mentioned the fact that the leaders had walked between the parts of the calf they had cut into pieces. Consequently, a covenant was an absolute commitment that was made before God.
Now the more important part of this covenant was the fact that this was a covenant between two parties, God and Abram. The Lord was persuading Abram of His commitment to fulfill His Word by personally binding Himself to these promises that had been made to this man. But there is a very important part of this covenant that you should not miss. Note who it was that went through the cut animal pieces. Abram did not walk through the pieces, because he went into a deep sleep. Only God went through the pieces! The Scripture declared that, “A burning torch” had, “passed between those pieces” (Gen. 15:17). God by Himself passed between the animal pieces as this burning torch. How do we know this was the Lord? Remember the imagery when the Children of Israel followed the Lord as they traveled to the Promised Land. While the Jews were in the wilderness God guided them using a cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night (Ex. 13:21). Therefore, this burning torch passing between the cut animal pieces was done so Abram would personally see that the LORD was committing Himself to fulfilling this covenant with him. What a gracious action that God took to convince His struggling child that He would be faithful to His Word.
But do you realize that Jesus did the exact same thing for those who would come to believe in Him? Jesus said, “And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them and said, ‘Take, eat; this is My body.’ Then He took the cup, and when He had given thanks He gave it to them, and they all drank from it. And He said to them, ‘This is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many’” (Mark 14:22-24). Note that He gave His body to be broken apart in our sight, and He allowed His blood to be shed so that we would all see the commitment He has made to each and every one of us. “This is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many.” He made the covenant possible by His work alone, just as Abram did not have to do anything for the covenant made with him. What a revelation of Christ’s love and commitment to fulfill His Word and promise to each of us. This only draws each of us to love Him in return, because He first loved us (1 John 4:19).
A prophecy concerning future events. Vs. 13-21
The final verses in this chapter are some of the most specific futuristic prophecies given in the Bible. God is declaring what is to take place with Abram’s descendants for the next 400 years, and these predictions were made before Abram had any children. What are the specifics of this prophecy?
1. The descendants of Abram will not dwell in their own land, but in a foreign land where the Jews will be afflicted and be placed in the bondage of slavery.
2. The peoples’ captivity will be for a duration of 400 years.
3. God will eventually judge this nation that has afflicted the Jewish people.
4. At the same time God will deliver the Jews from this nation, and they will come out of that nation with great possessions.
5. Abram will die at a very old age, and he will go down to the grave in peace.
6. In the fourth generation the Jewish people will return to the Promised Land.
7. God also explained one of His sovereign reasons for why He would wait to bless Abram’s descendants with the Land of Promise. It was because the iniquity of the Amorites was not yet complete. What does this mean? The Amorites were the people who lived in the land that God had promised to the descendants of Abram. God was saying, “Look, they still have time to repent before I will judge them.” No one will ever be able to say that God didn’t give the Amorites an opportunity to repent. They could have turned from their idolatry at any time, but they did not. I love this concept explained in this text, because it reveals that God is a God of patience and mercy, and He gives people space to repent. In the book of Revelation God spoke to the church of Thyatira and said, “I gave her time to repent of her sexual immorality, and she did not repent” (Rev. 2:21). This statement makes it clear that anyone can repent of their sins, and that God gives people time to repent before He judges them. This is why Peter said, “The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9). God is extremely long-suffering with people, much more long-suffering than we are with others. But, if people refuse to repent of their sins, then they will surely perish. God declared that these nations would also perish, because the judgment of God is sure.
8. God also declared the boundaries of the Promised Land, which on the west of Israel would be the river of Egypt (The Nile), and on the far east of Israel their boundary would be the great river Euphrates. In addition, God would replace the ten nations listed in the text with the Jewish people.
It is very easy to see the fulfillment of this prophecy in the history of Abram’s descendants. They were held in Egypt as slaves for 400 years, then delivered by the mighty hand of God, and finally brought back into the Promised Land. Just as God declared, so it came to pass. This prophecy is a powerful revelation of the foreknowledge and power of God, and is absolute proof that the Scripture has been penned by someone outside of our time domain who knows the future. This is the purpose of having the prophetic element in Scripture. In Isaiah 41:23, God gave a challenge to the false gods of that time, and asked them to simply tell everyone the future, and then everyone would be able to see who the true God was, and who the false gods were. This is why the Bible is the only religious book that possesses prophecy within it pages. Why? Because it proves the authority of the God who speaks! There are thousands of prophecies that are easy to understand, which are specific in detail, and that you can easily check out in the pages of secular history as proof.
Why should the Amorites be judged and their culture removed from the land of promise?
Many times, you will hear unbelievers who say, “If God was really a God of love and mercy, He wouldn’t have exterminated all these people and given their land to the Jews.” How should you answer such a charge against God? I believe the answer is very simple. I tell people, go look at how the Amorites and the Canaanites lived. If you study these cultures and the behaviors of these people, you will see that they were involved in some of the most vile and evil things that you could imagine. Their cultures were literally in self-destruct mode. Why do I say this? Here are some of the things they were doing. They were committing child sacrifice to their gods. Today when archaeologists dig in these cities, they find the remains of fetal skeletons buried under the cornerstones or in the walls of their homes. These individuals were involved in bestiality, which is having sex with animals, and incest as a common practice. They were aggressive homosexuals who raped others on a regular basis. If you doubt this fact, just read Genesis 19 and you will see why God destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah, because of the violent homosexual attack upon two angels. When you see the sexual deviance that they practiced, it cannot be described any other way than evil. If this sexual perversion was practiced in your neighborhood today, you would want these people put in prison for the rest of their lives. The culture of the Amorites and Canaanites was like a cancer in the land that must be removed if life was to be sustained. But people still protest and think, Did they really deserve judgment as harsh as this? When people say this to me, I point them to the Second World War, and ask them, “Shouldn’t we have stopped Hitler who wanted to control the whole world, and exterminate anyone who didn’t agree with him?” Any rational person would agree that the Nazi’s had to be stopped. This is exactly why the allies fought, destroyed, and conquered the Nazi regime. This is also exactly why God commanded the Israelites to conquer and destroy the Amorites and Canaanites. I would encourage you to read Leviticus 18:17-29, so you can hear God Himself give the reasons for why these nations would be destroyed. I believe when you consider the facts of what was happening at that point in history, it puts this story into perspective.
How should you handle your own fears and unbelief?
If the point of this chapter was to reveal how God helped Abram conquer his fears, then the information we have covered here should help you in the future. If you are struggling with fear and unbelief at this point in your life, you need to do exactly what Abram did. He listened to what God was speaking to him personally, he heard His promises, and He believed God. This fact should encourage you that God also wants to speak to you personally, but this requires that you find a quiet place, open God’s Word and wait upon Him. Remember, He has a still small voice, so you will have to listen and then weigh what you perceive He is saying to you with God’s Word. You must understand that God will never speak to you anything that would contradict what He has already spoken in His Word. You need to be still and hear His voice, and reject the lies that people have said, or what the devil has said to you. In Psalm 46:10 David encouraged all believers to, “Be still and know that I am God.” Those two little words, “Be still” are very powerful. What do they mean? These Hebrew words literally mean to take your hands off and relax and let go of your grip. As you pray and wait upon Him, you must take your hands off of your burden, and know that He is God. If you know that He is God, then that means He is in control of all things. But the problem is, you want to be in control, and take things into your own hands. But that is not trusting Him to work, because you are depending on yourself to handle the problem. So, take what you are fearing or burdened with, and put it in His hand by faith. This is what it means to trust Him, and not yourself. Don’t get up from prayer and start worrying or scheming again in your own mind how you are going to handle the problem. Doing so is taking out of His hands what you have placed there. This is not easy to do. Why? Because our nature is to always try and help God out. But He doesn’t need our help, because He is God. Remember that!
The big question is, are you cultivating a heart to hear the voice of the Lord? Jesus said, “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me” (John 10:27). How can you learn to hear His voice better? Here is a simple way. Right after you have spent time in God’s Word and a time in prayer, I would encourage you to stay seated in that quiet moment for a while. Just sit there and be quiet. Now this is really hard for some people, because they want to get on with their day. But this is probably one of the most important things you can do each day. When you meditate on what you have just read in His Word, God will then do some application of these Words of truth to you personally. Paul told Timothy who was struggling in his ministry to, “Meditate on these things; give yourself entirely to them, that your progress may be evident to all” (1 Tim. 4:15). The word meditate means to revolve in your mind and to think about what God has said to you. This is where you will begin to experience the application of God’s truth for yourself.
Some of you use a highlighter when you read books, or you underline points you want to remember. This is exactly what God does during this time of waiting and meditating on His Word. He will take a highlighter to something that He wants you to put in His hands. Or, He will correct you about some sin, or He will encourage you to take some action that you have neglected. Possibly you will hear Him encourage you to trust Him for what you are fearful about in your life. He will also quite often tell you just how much He loves you, and assure you that He has everything under control. Remember, the Apostle John said in 1 John 4:18, “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love.” Why is this truth so important? Because fear and love are polar opposites, and they cannot coexist. If you want your fears to be conquered, ask the Lord to sensitize you to His voice. I am absolutely confident that He will be assuring you of His love, so that you will trust Him with your burdens and reject what is fearful. Listen for His voice today!